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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2023  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 38-48

Indigenous knowledge on medicinal plants used by local villagers associated with Sadasivakona—A sacred grove of Chittoor district, Andhra Pradesh, India


1 Department of Botany, Government Degree College, Puttur, India; Department of Botany, Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, India
2 Department of Botany, Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, India; Survey of Medicinal Plants Unit, Regional Ayurveda Research Institute, Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh, India
3 Department of Botany, SVSSC Government Degree College, Sullurpet, Andhra Pradesh, India

Date of Submission07-Jul-2022
Date of Acceptance30-Oct-2022
Date of Web Publication30-Dec-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Pulicherla Yugandhar
Survey of Medicinal Plants Unit, Regional Ayurveda Research Institute, Itanagar 791111, Arunachal Pradesh
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jdras.jdras_107_22

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  Abstract 

BACKGROUND: The local villagers residing at Sadasivakona sacred grove are associated with medicinal plants and utilize many medicinal plants to cure ailments. Because of this, the present study was intended to document the traditional uses of medicinal plants used by local villagers residing at Sadasivakona—a sacred grove of Chittoor district, Andhra Pradesh, India. METHODS: The documentation of indigenous knowledge on medicinal plants used by local villagers of Sadasivakona sacred grove was carried out with a structured questionnaire. The documentation of indigenous knowledge was made by conducting several tours and personal interviews with their local dialect from 2019 to 2020. RESULTS: Sixty-seven potential medicinal plants belonging to 59 genera and 36 families were documented from Sadasivakona—a sacred grove of Chittoor district, Andhra Pradesh, India. For the preparation of medicine, leaves (49%) among the plant parts, paste (36%) among the form of medicine, internal administration (53%) among the intake of medicine, and cough (16%) among the ailment treatment were noticed as the highest percentages. Altogether, 41 types of ailments were successfully documented from the herbal practitioners of Sadasivakona sacred grove. CONCLUSIONS: There is no documentation on the indigenous knowledge of local villagers of Sadasivakona sacred grove so far. Hence the present study focuses on the documentation of perishing knowledge of this sacred grove. Among the documented plants, the therapeutic uses of 28 medicinal plants were matched with Dr. Duke’s Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical database and 10 medicinal plants with Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health Traditions database. The documented information may be helpful to the pharmaceutical industries in the preparation of novel drugs.

Keywords: Indigenous knowledge, medicinal plants, sacred grove, Sadasivakona


How to cite this article:
Sivaramakrishna P, Yugandhar P, Manjunatha Reddy Y. Indigenous knowledge on medicinal plants used by local villagers associated with Sadasivakona—A sacred grove of Chittoor district, Andhra Pradesh, India. J Drug Res Ayurvedic Sci 2023;8:38-48

How to cite this URL:
Sivaramakrishna P, Yugandhar P, Manjunatha Reddy Y. Indigenous knowledge on medicinal plants used by local villagers associated with Sadasivakona—A sacred grove of Chittoor district, Andhra Pradesh, India. J Drug Res Ayurvedic Sci [serial online] 2023 [cited 2023 Jan 27];8:38-48. Available from: http://www.jdrasccras.com/text.asp?2023/8/1/38/366288




  Introduction Top


Despite advances in biomedicine, rural or tribal communities still practice the use of medicinal plants to cure different ailments. Rural communities have a long tradition of using medicinal plants for various human ailments, which are pivotal in providing primary health needs. The herbal practice of healing diseases by herbal practitioners is locally called “Naatuvaidhyalu.” In recent years, the traditional approach of healing diseases with medicinal plants has been gaining importance worldwide because of its safety and affordability. According to WHO, 80% of the population chiefly relies on herbal medicine, especially developing countries that possess rural communities.[1] Through experience and practice, herbal practitioners acquire immense knowledge on medicinal plants that has been used to treat various human ailments. Unfortunately, this knowledge is under threat because of the passing of traditional herbal healers without documentation and lacuna in sharing their knowledge with the next generation. No written documentation, transferring of knowledge through oral communication, rapid changes in the culture due to modernization, increasing reliance on biomedical healthcare systems, and devaluation of the occupation of traditional herbal practitioners by younger generations are considered as primary threats to the loss of primitive knowledge. The indigenous knowledge of medicinal plants has been degrading rapidly at the regional level and worldwide.[2],[3] In this scenario, the rich heritage of information and uses of medicinal plants by folklore should be systematically documented before diminishing. Despite its vulnerability, there is an upsurge in demand for plant-based herbal medicines globally. The studies on the documentation of medicinal knowledge provide the basis for developing new therapeutic drugs.

Sadasivakona is a sacred grove of South-Eastern Ghats, situated between N13°65′73.30″ latitude, E79°70′51.23″ longitude and N13°51′65.02″ latitude, E79°63′57.72″ longitude with an elevation of 548 meters of the average mean sea level. It is located nearby Puttur town with 13 km of distance and Tirupati city with 35 km [Figure 1]. The study area comes under Chittoor East forest division and Puttur forest range. According to mythology, the name Sadasivakona originated from the name of the lord “Sadasiva,” and the “Kona” means deep valley. The king Raja Kumara Swamy Raja of the Karvetinagaram Empire constructed the Sadasiva temple and acted as a patron. This sacred grove is alluring with waterfalls, snobbish hillocks, high peak mountain heads, the realization of Lord Sadasiva with goddess Kamakshi, and the spreading of thick forest over hundreds of acres. This sacred grove is covered with tall trees, creepers, lianas, bushes, green mosses, and a dense forest with waterfalls. Two more waterfalls are situated away from the Sadasivakona waterfall called Ayyavarikona and Ammavarikona waterfalls. These three waterfall streams converge at a point called the sacred pond. The devotees at festivals may take holy baths in the sacred ponds and drink the water falling from waterfalls. They believe that the water flowing through the roots of medicinal plants has the healing power to cure different ailments.
Figure 1: Location of Sadasivakona sacred grove

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Sacred groves are naturally protected areas by local communities with rich fauna and floristic diversity.[4] Nearly 14,000 sacred groves have been identified across India. Among them, Andhra Pradesh state has 691, and the Chittoor district accommodated 133 sacred groves.[5] In Andhra Pradesh, the sacred groves are adored in the name of “Pavitrakshetralu” because most of the sacred groves were compiled by religious gods. Here, the word “Pavitra” means sacred, and the word “Kshetra” means a place or location. The sacred groves represent a rich source of medicinal plants. The local villagers around these groves have been collecting the medicinal plant parts and practicing the treatment in and around their villages. Many authors have undertaken the documentation of ethnomedicinal information and the indigenous knowledge of local people associated with various sacred groves of the Chittoor district.[6],[7],[8],[9],[10],[11],[12],[13],[14],[15],[16],[17],[18],[19],[20],[21] So far, there are no reports documented on the traditional medicinal knowledge on Sadasivakona sacred grove. Hence, the present study was undertaken to fulfill the lacuna by the documentation of eroding valuable traditional knowledge of various medicinal plants used by the local communities of Sadasivakona. The documentation studies are intended to preserve the traditional knowledge and to conserve the medicinal plants of sacred groves.


  Materials and Methods Top


Systematic and exhaustive field surveys were carried out from 2019 to 2020 to gather information from traditional herbal practitioners. The information was collected from seven practitioners (four women and three men) from seven different villages. Most of the practitioners are more than 60 years of age and primarily practice agriculture. The data were collected from local practitioners with a structured questionnaire, and the discussions were made in their local dialect. The developed questionnaire contains questions concerning the local name of the plant, the part used, the form of the medicine, the administration of medicine, and the type of the ailment they treated. Standard methodologies have been followed when collecting the information on ethnomedico-botanical aspects.[22],[23],[24],[25],[26],[27],[28],[29],[30] The medicinal data obtained from the practitioners were crossverified for authentication with Dr. Duke’s Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical databases (https://phytochem.nal.usda.gov/phytochem/search) and Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT) (http://envis.frlht.org/traded-medicinal-plants-database.php).[31],[32] In each interview, the name of the place, voucher number of herbarium specimens, and vernacular name of the plants were noted. Later, they were taxonomically identified with the help of floras and monographs and by comparing the specimens stored in Herbarium, Department of Botany, Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh.


  Results and Discussion Top


The present study documented the medicinal uses of 67 medicinal plants for 41 types of ailments. The collected data were tabulated in the table by representing the scientific name, voucher specimen number, vernacular name, habit, family name, part used, the form of the medicine, administration, and ailments treated [Table 1]; [Figure 2]A and [B], and [Figure 3]. Among the habit of the plants, climbers (13), herbs (17), shrubs (16), and trees (21) were used for the preparation of medicine. Among them, tree species were used most prevalently by the local villagers of Sadasivakona sacred grove [Figure 4]. Trees are distinguished very prominently in the forest, and the villagers collect them quickly in an emergency by remembering the available places of trees in the forest. This type of result was also noticed in the documentation of ethnobotanical knowledge of ethnic groups from Kurnool district, Andhra Pradesh, India.[33] In terms of percentage of plant parts, they used flowers (3%), fruits (6%), gum (3%), latex (5%), leaves (49%), prop roots (2%), roots (6%), seeds (4%), stem bark (7%), tuberous roots (6%), and whole plant (9%). Among all the plant parts, leaves were used most frequently for the preparation of medicines [Figure 5]. The significant reason behind the use of leaves in the preparation of medicines is that they are an eminent part of the plant, easily found in nature, and available mostly in all seasons. This type of result is also agreed with the documentation of ethnomedicinal knowledge from tribes residing in hilly tract areas of the East Godavari district, Andhra Pradesh, India.[34] The herbal healers of this sacred grove prepared six different forms of medicine, viz., powder (shade dried plant material subjected to grinding), juice (the extraction of juice by maceration by adding water), decoction (boiling of plant material by adding water and filtering), paste (maceration of fresh plant material), latex (latex is a milky exudate obtained from many plants by rupturing) and ash (burning of shade dried plant material). In this study, ash (2%), decoction (20%), juice (23%), latex (4%), paste (36%), and powder (15%) forms of the medicine were used for the preparation of medicine. Among the prepared form of medicine, the paste form of the medicine was used pervasively to prepare medicines [Figure 6]. This type of result was in accordance with the ethnic information documented from the Chenchu tribe of the Mahabubnagar district, Andhra Pradesh, India.[35] Coming to the administration of medicine, 55% of the prepared medicines were given internally and 45% externally [Figure 7]. From the documented 67 medicinal plants, they treated 41 types of ailments. The maximum number of medicinal plants was reported to treat cough and wounds with six types of medicinal plants; cuts and fever with four types of medicinal plants; aphrodisiac, diabetes, dysentery, foot cracks, jaundice, rheumatic pains, skin itching, and ulcers with three types of medicinal plants; body coolant, cold, constipation, earache, gum infections, improving hunger, leukorrhea, scorpion sting, stomach ulcers, and worm infections with two types of medicinal plants, and the remaining ailments, i.e., bone fractures, dandruff, diarrhea, eczema, foot burns, hair growth, helminthiasis, kidney stones, migraine, mouth ulcers, paralysis, piles, rat bite, rejuvenation, ringworm, scabies, sprains, stomach ache, and urinary tract infections with the single medicinal plant. Among them, cough and wounds were treated most prevalently compared with other ailments [Figure 8]. Out of the 36 families, Fabaceae reported nine species, followed by Lamiaceae with five species; Apocynaceae with five species; Acanthaceae, Compositae, Moraceae, and Phyllanthaceae with three species; Amaranthaceae, Convolvulaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Menispermaceae, Rutaceae, and Sapindaceae with two species, and the remaining families such as Anacardiaceae, Annonaceae, Asparagaceae, Boraginaceae, Burseraceae, Cactaceae, Cleomaceae, Colchicaceae, Cornaceae, Cucurbitaceae, Loganiaceae, Lythraceae, Malvaceae, Myrtaceae, Nyctaginaceae, Oleaceae, Piperaceae, Poaceae, Rubiaceae, Solanaceae, Stemonaceae, Verbenaceae, and Violaceae with single species only. The medicinal uses of plants documented from local villagers of Sadasivakona were crossverified with Dr. Duke’s Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical databases and FRLHT. Among the 67 medicinal plants, the ethnomedicinal uses of 28 medicinal plants were matched with the ethnomedicinal uses with Dr. Duke’s Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical databases and 10 ethnomedicinal uses with FRLHT database. Overall, 32 medicinal plants with their medicinal values were matched either with Dr. Duke’s Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical databases or FRLHT database. The remaining 35 medicinal plants with their medicinal uses were not registered in these databases [Table 2].
Table 1: Documentation of ethnomedicinal information from local villagers of Sadasivakona sacred grove

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Figure 2: Glimpses of important medicinal plants documented from Sadasivakona sacred grove;

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Figure 3: (A) Location of Sadasiva temple in dry deciduous forest, (B) Sadasivakona waterfalls, (C) collection of information from a sage at Sadasivakona by the author, (D) picturesque view of Sadasiva temple

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Figure 4: Habit of documented medicinal plants from Sadasivakona sacred grove

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Figure 5: Percentage of plant parts used for the preparation of medicine by local villagers of Sadasivakona sacred grove

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Figure 6: Percentage of form of medicines prepared by local villagers of Sadasivakona sacred grove

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Figure 7: Percentage of the administration of medicine given by local villagers of Sadasivakona sacred grove

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Figure 8: Total number of ailments treated by local villagers of Sadasivakona sacred grove

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Table 2: Crossverifying of documented ethnomedicinal data with different databases

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The information gathered from Sadasivakona sacred grove shows similarities with the previous studies that have been documented by the authors of Chittoor district sacred groves.[7],[11],[12],[13],[14],[15] However, deviations were also noticed in using different plant parts for the same disease, the same plant for other diseases, different plants for the same disease, and the mode of medicine preparation. It includes the following: Lepidagathis cristata whole plant burnt ash was used to treat skin disease in this study, but Yanadi tribe of Ganugapenta, Chittoor district used the paste form of Lepidagathis cristata root to treat skin diseases.[17] In the present study, the leaf extract of Achyranthes aspera was used to treat jaundice, whereas the root of the same plant was used to heal toothache.[6] Similarly, Ocimum tenuiflorum leaf extract is dropped into the ear for earache. However, the leaf boiled in til oil used for earache by the tribal inhabitants of Veyilingalakona sacred grove, Chittoor district.[13]


  Conclusion Top


The present study was intended to document the indigenous medicinal knowledge from local villagers of Sadasivakona sacred grove. There are medicinal properties of 67 medicinal plants used for 41 ailments. The present documentation study helps to preserve the record of traditional uses of medicinal plants without disappearing in the rapidly changing modern world. The study insights revealed that the herbal practitioners are fulfilling the healthcare needs of local people through their experience by using the plants for medicinal purposes. Further, the information generated from this study may be helpful in the exploration of active ingredients and offers phytomedicine and pharmacognostic studies for developing more effective therapeutic drugs to meet the healthcare needs of mankind.

Acknowledgments

The authors greatly acknowledge the informants of Sadasivakona sacred grove and forest officials for allowing authors to collect the information.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.





 
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    Figures

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    Tables

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